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Kaby Lake: To buy or not to buy; that is the question

Updated on January 11, 2017
The good old Pentiums; When generation upgrades were worth every trouble...
The good old Pentiums; When generation upgrades were worth every trouble... | Source

Kaby Lake's superb overclockability and added bonuses

2017 began with tech enthusiasts getting access to the new line up of Intel's 7th generation of desktop CPUs. Not surprisingly, the 7th gen of Intel processors, code name Kaby Lake, is out and is not the miracle that Intel would want you to think it is. However, the enthusiast level k-series CPUs show some promising results.The Intel CPUs which one can tweak to work at higher clock-speeds than their default are labeled as k-series CPUs. These are targeted at enthusiasts and people with demanding workload like video editing, game development, things like that.

This is where Kaby Lake shines. If you get an unlocked k-series CPU, chances are you can hit 5 GHz no problem and of course, there is a tonne of improvement in the peripherals what with USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.1 gen 2 which has baffled half the buyers and the rest half are still wondering why they have not increased the number of PCIe lanes.

Again, if you are new to the game. PCIe lanes provide an interface between the CPU and other components like graphics processing units(GPUs), WiFi adapter cards and high speed storage devices.

But here's the catch. Unless, you have an insane all-in-one or a custom water cooler, nobody in their right mind would recommend you to overclock upto 5GHz and if you don't do that then your Kaby Lake part would perform only as good as its Skylake (Intel 6th gen) counterpart.

This comparison is valid, if you are putting an i5 6th gen against, an i5 7th gen, same with i7 parts and so on.

However, the number of instructions either of the CPUs execute per clock are almost the same the improvement is only due to the fact that overclocked Kaby Lake can have more of these clock-cycles crammed in a shorter time span, that is, higher GHz.

In other words, if you have a 6th gen CPU and its 7th gen counterpart, both at, say, 4.2 GHz, then there will be almost no difference in there performances.

If you are thinking of building a system with one of the Kaby Lake CPUs, you might want to factor in the additional cost for a decent cooling solution to really benefit from it. Also really research what you are doing, in terms of overclocking, if you have never done something like this before.

Who should get it?

The type of workload that can really benefit from a Kaby Lake is editing and rendering videos, animations and those kind of things. So content creators who have really made their Skylake processors groan under load are the ones who could definitively that Kaby Lake is worth every penny.

Gamers are again a different use case, may be if you are building a system from the scratch then you might want to consider the newer gen but then again, Z170 motherboards( the ones designed for Skylake gen CPUs) are going to be on sale so you might want to look out for those. You'd probably be better off getting a Skylake CPU, if you can get one on sale, and spend the saved money on a good GPU.

Also Intel has finally released an unlocked i3 CPU, in this gen. So, if you are planning to go for an i3 build, 7th gen might actually win out, especially for budget builds where you can later upgrade as per your requirements.

The Rant

Okay, now that we have the few cases where purchasing/upgrading to these fancy new processors would actually make sense, time for some realistic ranting.

What the actual hell, Intel! Granted that Moore's law is running on fumes these days but that is no excuse for not having an increase in the number of PCIe lanes. May be gamers don't need additional PCIe lanes to have multiple GPUs anymore. However, there are people running complex numerical analysis who cannot work without having 4 Titan X available to them.

First you lock the processors which were easy enough to overclock, without the consent of the consumers who have already purchased them. Then you guys have the nerve to show up with just a highly overclockable CPU and call it a generation upgrade.

Never before have I imagined that the most brilliant minds from Intel would come up with something so mundane. We are still stuck with the ancient X99 chipset if we want more PCIe connectivity. And don't get me started with the cores! Intel seems to think that more than four cores are just not for desktop work load because, apparently, all of the users run just Adobe Premier on Windows.It is more likely that Valve would release Half-life 3 before Intel releases a six core or an eight core part for the desktop.

If they really wanted to improve upon the peripheral, if they really wanted the desktop market to innovate and grow they would not have had the guts to show case a processor with practically no Instructions per clock gains.It seems that all Intel want is to milk the fan base, because AMD is just not an option for PC builders anymore.

All I can hope is for AMD to come up with some decent desktop solution with competitive prices because by God am I starved for some actual innovation.


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